via Northwestern University
Smart sponge could clean up oil spills
- Sponge can absorb more than 30 times its weight in oil and be reused up to several dozen times
- Secret lies in its oleophilic, hydrophobic, magnetic (OHM) nanocomposite coating
- Process can turn any cheap sponge into a smart sponge for environmental remediation
- The team also is exploring the smart sponge for removing agricultural pollution from water
A Northwestern University-led team has developed a highly porous smart sponge that selectively soaks up oil in water.
With an ability to absorb more than 30 times its weight in oil, the sponge could be used to inexpensively and efficiently clean up oil spills without harming marine life. After squeezing the oil out of the sponge, it can be reused many dozens of times without losing its effectiveness.
“Oil spills have devastating and immediate effects on the environment, human health and economy,” said Northwestern’s Vinayak Dravid, who led the research. “Although many spills are small and may not make the evening news, they are still profoundly invasive to the ecosystem and surrounding community. Our sponge can remediate these spills in a more economic, efficient and eco-friendly manner than any of the current state-of-the-art solutions.”
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